The sweltering heat is here and the icy lemonade is flowing — yep, it’s definitely summer. If you wrapped up your spring cleaning with a room full of random stuff you don’t need anymore — but is just too good to throw out! — a garage sale might be next up on your list of to-do’s.
But c’mon, it’s summer and you have better things to do than sit outside all day with cardboard signs haggling over a few pennies for your old stuff. Here’s how to have a virtual garage sale via simple smartphone apps.
VarageSale (iOS/Android) makes the process of getting your items in front of local buyers super easy. You use the free app — or the VarageSale website — to create a brief listing for each thing you’re trying to get rid of. A quick pic, short description, and your asking price is all you need, so you can go on a serious listing spree in just a few minutes. It’s fantastic for listing a bunch of items one after another, so if you’ve got a whole garage full of goodies to unload, this is your best bet. What’s really great about VarageSale is you (and everyone else) can log in using Facebook, which means everyone has a real name and a face to go along with it, so no creepy contacts will flood your inbox.
If you’re really in a hurry, and just need to ditch a handful of things, there are apps for that, too. OfferUp (iOS/Android) posts listings in as little as 30 seconds, and has a image-heavy browsing style that lets your eye-catching photos do the selling for you, along with private messaging and reputation ratings to weed out scammers and spammers.
Shpock (iOS/Android) works in the same way, but bills itself as being for “beautiful” items, so if you’re selling something that you think deserves some seriously special consideration — like a fancy antique bike or pricey electronics — it’s a solid bet someone on Shpock will be interested.
These apps are great go-tos for moving used items in a hurry, but if you absolutely don’t want to mess around with any new apps whatsoever, you’re still in luck! Facebook is packed with pages full of local people buying and selling. Head to Facebook, either on your phone app or web browser, and in the search box at the top of the page, just type the name of your city or county along with the words “buy and sell.” In my experience, even the smallest towns have a rummage page on Facebook, so the top listing in the search results is going to be your go-to. Nextdoor is a similarly simple way to show your neighborhood what you’re selling.
Of course, there’s always the chance that your tiny township has missed out on the Facebook train. That’s okay! In that case, Craigslist is the old standby that still produces results, even if the site looks like it is from 1999. Create a quick listing, toss in a photo, and insist on email contacts only — because giving your phone number on a public forum isn’t a great idea — and wait for a bite.
No matter which app, site, or virtual marketplace you end up using, the rules for exchanging your stuff for cash are always the same: Always insist on meeting in a public place, for safety, and never take checks. Seasoned local sellers will tell you that the parking lot of your local police station is a great place to make a sale, and nobody in their right mind is going to try to scam you (or worse) with Johnny Law looking over their shoulder. And if you don’t feel like messing with paper money, an app like Square Cash (iOS/Android) can take payments directly, with an added layer of security and peace of mind.
I know selling things online might not be for everyone — like if you just have too much stuff to list, or a garage full of trinkets that need to be seen to be appreciated — but if you’re going with an old fashioned pack-the-driveway rummage spree, your smartphone can make that easier, too. Yard Sale Treasure Map (iOS/Android) is a community-based garage sale listing app that puts your local newspaper classified section to shame. You can create a notice for your sale in just a minute or two, complete with GPS location and lists of your best goodies. It’s also great for planning a community yard sale, so don’t be afraid to get your neighbors involved! And if you end up having a whole bunch of stuff that doesn’t sell, but you don’t want to just toss in the dumpster, a storage service like Clutter will come to your house, pack it all up, and store it for you for a nominal fee.
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Jennifer Jolly is an Emmy Award-winning consumer tech contributor and host of USA TODAY's digital video show TECH NOW. E-mail her at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @JenniferJolly.